As this year draws to a close and I realise I’ve made it through 3 months of blogging now and am getting into the swing of this, I wanted to celebrate with my own Best Of awards for 2011’s YA books:
Best Vampire YA
The Radleys- Matt Haig.
This book has been placed and sold in the adult and young adult sections of bookshops, which in my opinion is about as brilliant as it gets for YA- showing the literary quality and authenticity of the piece (it’s my dream if I ever get my own book published to do this too). The Radleys wins points for being a sort anti-Twilight and is simply brilliant. A suburban family hiding the fact they are vampires? Such a fun idea and it is really well written. Okay, so it was technically published at the very end of 2010, but the majority of its sales, publicity and success has happened this year so I felt it warranted inclusion.
Best YA Sequel
Where She Went-Gayle Forman
If I Stay is one of the most powerful books I’ve read in the last few years and is incredibly well written so I was beyond excited to hear about a sequel being published. Where She Went does not fall short of its predecessor. If anything, I believe it exceeds If I Stay and is a stunning read taking place over one night about love, the past, the present and second chances.
Best YA Novel (Non-paranormal)
Wintergirls-Laurie Halse Anderson
A poignant, impressive and originally written novel about the difficulties of anorexia. Anderson breathes fresh life into this theme with her use of strikethrough, compelling narrator and exploring such a topic with sensitivity rather than as a way to create a romance.
Best Dystopian YA
This is just a terrifying idea and as Shusterman himself has commented in the afterword, it’s not that hard to imagine with the right technology and the fact organ donations are still hard to come by. This book follows three teenagers due to be unwound; where every part of their body is harvested and given to someone else in a sort of retrospective abortion parents can elect their child for as teenagers. This is more frightening than any scary legend because when we’re teenagers that is exactly when we mess up and our parents can reach the end of their tether with us. While I was a pretty good teenager, the idea if I screwed up that my mum could send me off to be cut into lots of little pieces? Yeah, stuff of nightmares.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs.
This book is indebted to its use of creepy vintage photography but the prose is engaging and fun. It is a little derivative, one review I read compared to Professor X’s school, but it has this brilliant atmosphere of the uncanny (Das Unheimliche if I want to show off my arts degree and sound very pretencious) particularly due to this photography. If you’re bored of werewolves, paranormal romances or vampires but still want a little bit of creepy in your book then this should be a refreshing read for you.
Best YA Debut
A highly enjoyable dystopian novel and debut. The world is well built, the plot is engaging and fast paced and the romance in it doesn’t feel stuffed in to appease readers. Tris is strong and brave and a welcome heroine in the lines of Katniss in the Hunger Games.
Best Standalone YA
Think If I Stay meets Stolen and consider this a truly stellar debut by Cat Clarke. At its heart as well, this novel explores depression and betrayal and this is really well done and sensitively handled. The narrator isn’t perfect, is capable of being selfish and makes mistakes, but you understand her and why she behaves like she does. Highly recommended!
Best Use Of Media or Alternative Styles of Narration in YA
Every You, Every Me by David Leviathon
The use of photography in this novel is really interesting and works in a way I don’t think Miss Peregrine… did so for me had to be mentioned in this category. Like Wintergirls it also uses strikethrough well and the entire novel is a really interesting exercise in form that as an aspiring writer and arts student I couldn’t help be really admire and appreciate.
What are your ‘Best Of YA’ choices for 2011? Do you agree with mine or is there a book you would have voted for or category you would have liked to have seen? Next year I’m planning to include at least one category that you can vote for, ideally more but I was unable to this year. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions for this year though!